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Khushi cleared her throat.
Arnav turned around to see a tight-lipped, hesitant Khushi. It was the way she had become around him lately, as if spitefully letting him know that he could not just say and do whatever he pleased, because she would make sure to not react.
"Has she ever looked more beautiful?" He caught himself thinking. Then again, she always managed to stun him when he least expected it. Arnav worked in the fashion industry, hell, he owned a lot of the fashion industry around here, but none of the models had ever left an impression on him. Khushi was more than beautiful. She was beyond--
"Here is your ring," Arnav's thoughts were
interrupted by Khushi's flat tone.
"Anjali-ji is asking you to come downstairs. The first guests have already arrived, and Lavanya-ji--" she stopped midsentence, seeing Arnav's eyes.
They looked... was it possible? They were misty. Khushi looked around the room nervously and noticed the bangles and the letter. Anjali-ji had told her this story, so she gathered he must have been thinking about his mother.
"I'm sorry," Khushi averted her gaze and muttered to the floor rather than to Arnav, "but you really should be joining the--"
Khushi looked up at Arnav in shock. There it was, that intense, steadfast gaze she'd experienced before. He was about to do something reckless. It would be best to just leave, right now, but she just stood there, mesmerised.
"But.. I... but you.." nothing reasonable escaped her lips.
"It's enough!" Arnav was clearly flustered, whether it was the sheer emotional force of the decision he'd just made, or her presence, or a mix of all that.
"I've played this game long enough! Khushi, I'm not getting married."
Khushi closed her eyes, hoping all this would go away. What was the matter with Arnav now? She could never decipher him. Meanwhile he drew a deep breath and took a couple steps towards the girl who had been haunting his dreams for months now.
"Do you hear me? I'm calling it off. I don't love her, I never have, and never will!"
"But... Lavanya-ji--" Khushi was almost in panic now. He stepped a little closer.
"You know damn well I don't love her. You know why I agreed to marry her. You know that I--"
Arnav was only a breath away from her face now, and suddenly noticed the familiar fear in her eyes. Wait, what was he doing exactly?
The moment he stammered, Khushi suddenly realised everything. The way he'd been acting up to the Diwali night, the way he kept trying to humiliate her, all the actions of the past week, the spite, the concern, the anger and the tenderness...
Arnav saw that realisation in Khushi's eyes. Time stopped for a moment, and then the mixture of emotions in her eyes was replaced by deep sadness, laced with anxiety.
She quietly said, "It's too late now." And then added, a bit more audibly, "You are to be married to her."
"I don't care!"
"You have to now! Marriage is a sacred bond, one does not play with it so easily!"
"How dare you..." Arnav felt his irritation rise again.
"You will not do this to Lavanya-ji!" Khushi was almost yelling at Arnav now.
"Why do you think you can tell me what to
do and what not to?" Arnav spat through gritted teeth, "go tell them it's off!
I'm not going to marry her, ever! Do you understand, Khushi Kumari Gupta?"
"ASR?" A voice coming from the door made them both turn around in shock.
Lavanya felt as if the world had just shattered around her. She'd walked upstairs to find her fiance-to-be after several encouragements from her parents and inquiries from the guests. And she'd walked up to Arnav's door to hear Khushi yelling at him. His reply resounded right as Lavanya opened the door.
She felt as if all life had drained from her in that second. All those nagging suspicions, the underlying worries whether ASR really, truly felt about her the way she did... how could she have been deceiving herself so much? Lavanya's eyes filled with tears and she wasn't able to utter another word. Khushi rushed up in the instant reflex to comfort her. The embrace was full of unspoken emotion - of empathy, of apology and of guilt.
"ASR... how could you... say this? Don't you... love... me?" Lavanya sobbed.
Arnav gritted his teeth again and turned away from the two women, neither of whom he could face right now.
Khushi also gritted her teeth. She held Lavanya's hand tightly and, she hoped, reassuringly. Hoping her voice would not break, Khushi said as calmly as she could, "it's ok, Lavanya. He doesn't really mean that. You will get married."
Arnav couldn't believe his ears. He turned around swiftly.
Khushi looked at him sternly.
"It's ok to have cold feet, Chote," Anjali held Arnav's hand and smiled encouragingly. "But you'll see it will all pass once you and Lavanya--"
"Di! Please! I'm not having cold feet. It was all a mistake, I should never have agreed to this in the first place," Arnav looked at Lavanya. "I... I'm..." He trailed off and clenched his fists.
"Say it!" Khushi exclaimed and jumped up, "just say
it, Arnav Singh Raizada!"
Hope it's worth the wait!
I have lots of work next week, so can't promise an update too soon, sorry about that.
Joined: 09 January 2011
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